It took me a while to figure out what would work best for my curly red (read: stubborn) hair. After much trial and error and many dollars spent on hair products that didn't work, I finally figured out a combination that works well for me, and my wallet.
Here's what I do to "fix" my long, curly hair.
1. Shampoo and condition.
This was a trial and error process and I found several products that don't work for me. I can't use Suave of any kind, or Pantene. They make my hair greasy and flat. Herbal Essences has been my number one brand for many years. I prefer the older formula (with flowers on the bottle) that they still sell in one scent at Wal-Mart. Their new brightly colored shampoos and conditioners work well with my hair too though. I apply conditioner quite liberally, about twice the amount of shampoo I use.
2. Keep it in a towel.
I keep my hair in a towel until it is ready to do. I don't rub it or shake it in the towel, I just let it dry inside the towel while I put my makeup on.
3. Use a very wide toothed comb/pick.
I have one comb I have used every day since 2000. Seriously, life stops when I lose my comb. It looks close to the one in the picture.
4. Apply mousse first.
I use Suave max hold mousse (in a mauve can) and rub it through my hair. It acts like a primer for the gel. Rub it in from root to tip, until your hair feels wet again. This is usually a couple of handfuls of mousse for me.
5. Apply thick gel.
After applying the mousse, I apply gel from root to tip with my fingers, with my hair upside down. I use Garnier Fructis hair gel in Super Stiff and use quite a bit of this as well. If your gel feels watery in your hand/ fingers, it won't hold a curl well. If it kind of stretches between your fingers it's good stuff. Separate the hair by combing your fingers through it (no combs or brushes after gel).
6. Flip your head over to dry your hair.
Dry with a hairdryer, keeping the dryer closer to the hair and scrunching it to add the curl. Your fingers act as the diffuser. Rotate the hair dryer all over the head while scrunching the hair in your fingers. By keeping the hair upside down, it dries with more volume and more evenly without frizzing out at the top.
7. Don't touch it again.
After it dries, don't comb it, not with your fingers or a comb or brush. To hold a tight curl, it must stay in a catatonic-gelled state. If you tend to put it up and take it down a lot, it will get frizzy, so try to stay with whatever style you pick for the day. I often leave mine down during the day and put it up at night.
Here's what my hair looks like when I use this method:
What works for your curly hair? I am always interested to hear about curl-friendly products!